SETTLEMENT: THE PILLAR OF GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

More than the predator, settlement is the real killer of victims. Settlement is any amount of money that a predator suggests to give the family of the victim or that the family of the victim requests from the predator to cover the offence.

This settlement can be in form of the predator catering to police bills, medical bills plus some other bills which the family of the victim might have incurred as a result of the crime to buy the silence of the victim.

Communities where this act is normalized usually favor settlement over justice because they want to cover the dignity of the community. This is usually their excuse but from interviews and the likes, it has been revealed that some of the predators as a matter of fact would send gifts in cash and kind to the community heads to persuade them to mount pressure on the family of the victim to accept settlement.

What the leaders in this community do not understand is that settlement causes more rot than can be fully examined. The unseen effects on settlement is that it shames the dignity of the victim. After a settlement has taken place, most victims begin to have a wrongly founded notion that they are worth so little. They begin to think that their dignity is a commodity to be purchased and they begin to suffer from low self-esteem.

Another disastrous effect of settlements is that they reduce the people trust in justice to the bare minimum. The people who witnessed the events and the way it played out now begin to view the justice system as non-efficient and easily overturned. As a result, it fosters ill feeling from the community towards officials that work in the justice department. The long term result of this is that when there is a repetition of that same crime, people see that the justice system can easily be overturned and they take justice into their hands and begin to take jungle justice as an option. This was seen in the year 2020, when many Nigerians took to the streets in the “Say No to Rape” movement. When it seemed as though the justice system was lagging behind, people began to take matters into their own hands and to prosecute rapist by beating to shreds or by burning.

Major reasons why people choose settlement over established course of justice is mainly due to poverty. Majority of victims come from families with little or no means of sustenance. As a result, the victim is required to work away from home which put them in the way of their predators. When the offence of rape occurs, most of the families’ do not have enough money to acquire the services of a lawyer. In the cases where they do, they prefer to receive payments to help with other needs the family has.

Another reason why many families chose settlement over justice is fear. Victims are usually defiled by people they mostly respect of people who hold some levels of influence over the society in which they find themselves. These predators have the ability to turn the story around and make the victim look like a liar. Worst case scenario is when they close up the doors of opportunities for the victims and the community would begin to shun the victim. The best case scenario for this victim is to receive settlement and keep their mouth shut.

The last reason is Ignorance or in another case, illiteracy. More often than not, these families are not aware that there are various bodies who have taken the responsibility upon themselves to combat Gender Based Violence with no charge to the victim families. These bodies include governmental bodies, NGO’S and private organizations with the sole aim of ensuring justice for the victims of Gender Based Violence. Their cause is mostly supported by credible government agencies and funding from international bodies.